Things are never as easy as they seem. And that point is driven home more than ever in the uncertainty of our new Covid world. The Mets announced their preliminary summer camp roster and it was hard not to notice the absence of most of their highest-rated prospects. While teenagers like Wander Franco and Jarred Kelenic were on the rosters for Tampa Bay and Seattle, Ronny Mauricio and Francisco Alvarez were nowhere to be seen on the Mets’ initial roster. And while there is still time – and spots – to add them later, it seems beyond odd that they’re not there now.
No doubt some of this is due to space limitations, which are all the more important with the social distance guidelines in place. At their Spring Training complex in Florida, the Mets have multiple fields available for players. Initially, they have just Citi Field in New York, although the expectation is that MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, will be used, too.
But beyond the space problem, we have a bias from GM Brodie Van Wagenen. The same mindset that allowed him to part ways with Kelenic because he was years away is still in full swing. There are no players like Mauricio and Alvarez around because they’re too young and too far away. Here’s what Van Wagenen said in his press briefing:
“This team’s built to win, and our intention at least at the early going of this process is to have players in camp that we think are capable of helping us at the major-league level this year.”
So, we get Gordon Beckham and Melky Cabrera, two veterans recently added to the players in camp for the Mets. Of course, Beckham had a (-0.1) fWAR for the Tigers last year while Cabrera checked in with a (-0.7) for the Pirates. It’s certainly up for debate how much help those two players well on the wrong side of 30 will be able to provide the major league club.
With a limit of 60 players, the Mets could field two 26-man rosters and still have eight spots left over for their top minor league prospects. The advantage to having prospects on the roster is that this is the only way the Mets can give them in-person instruction. Zoom meetings are great but it’s still the best idea to have your top coaches working hands-on with your top prospects.
It’s certainly possible that we’ll see the youngsters added once the Brooklyn facility is up and running. But if that’s the case – for Pete’s sake just say so. It’s not like announcing that will give away some trade secret or something.
Van Wagenen is focused on the major league team in this shortened season. And no one is suggesting the Mets punt this year because they have as good a shot as anyone. But you can accomplish multiple goals at the same time. There’s absolutely no sense in leaving guys like Mauricio and Alvarez away from the summer camp, assuming that they are Covid free and have no problems getting to the U.S. if they went back to their homelands. If either of those are the case – and there are reports of unnamed minor league guys for the Mets testing positive – than surely there are people like Brett Baty and Mark Vientos who could be there.
Let’s see some dedication to the future of the team, not just the 2020 season.